Friday the Thirteen HTML version

broke loose was child's play to his mood to-day. Mother sent me word this
morning that she saw last night the spell was coming. He had been up to
see her and sisters, and mother thought from his tone he was about to
disappear again. When she told me of his mood, and I remembered the day, I
was afraid he might seek his vent here. Also I heard of his being about
town till long after midnight. The minute I opened his office door this
morning he flew at me like a panther. I told him I had only dropped in on
my rounds for an order, as they were running off right smart, and I didn't
know but he might like to pick up some bargains. 'Bargains!' he roared,
'don't you know the day? Don't you know it is Friday, the 13th? Go back
to that hell-pit and sell, sell, sell.' 'Sell what and how much?' I asked.
'Anything, everything. Give the thieves every share they will take, and
when they won't take any more, ram as much again down their crops until
they spit up all they have been buying for the last three months!' Going
out I met Jim Holliday and Frank Swan rushing in. They are evidently
executing Bob's orders, and have been pouring Anti-People's out for an
hour. They will be on the floor again in a few minutes, so I thought it
safer to call you before I started to sell. Mr. Randolph, they cannot take
much more of anything in here, and if I begin to throw stocks over, it
will bring the gavel inside of ten minutes; and that will be to announce a
dozen failures. It's yet twenty minutes to one and God only knows what
will happen before three. It's up to you, Mr. Randolph, to do something,
and unless I am on a bad slant, you haven't many minutes to lose."
It was then I dropped the receiver with "I thought as much!" As I had been
fingering the tape, watching five and ten millions crumbling from price
values every few minutes, I was sure this was the work of Bob Brownley.
No one else in Wall Street had the power, the nerve, and the devilish
cruelty to rip things as they had been ripped during the last twenty
minutes. The night before I had passed Bob in the theatre lobby. I gave
him close scrutiny and saw the look of which I of all men best knew the
meaning. The big brown eyes were set on space; the outer corners of the
handsome mouth were drawn hard and tense as though weighted. As I had my
wife with me it was impossible to follow him, but when I got home I called
up his house and his clubs, intending to ask, him to run up and smoke a
cigar with me, but could locate him nowhere. I tried again in the morning
without success, but when just before noon the tape began to jump and
flash and snarl, I remembered Bob's ugly mood, and all it portended.
Fred Brownley was Bob's youngest brother, twelve years his junior. He had
been with Randolph & Randolph from the day he left college, and for over a
year had been our most trusted Stock Exchange man. Bob Brownley, when
himself, was as fond of his "baby brother," as he called him, as his
beautiful Southern mother was of both; but when the devil had possession
of Bob--and his option during the past five years had been exercised many
a time--mother and brother had to take their place with all the rest of
the world, for then Bob knew no kindred, no friends. All the wide world
was to him during those periods a jungle peopled with savage animals and
reptiles to hunt and fight and tear and kill.
It is hardly necessary for me to explain who Randolph & Randolph are. For
more than sixty years the name has spoken for itself in every part of the
world where dollar-making machines are installed. No railroad is financed,
no great "industrial" projected, without by force of habit, hat-in-handing
a by-your-leave of Randolph & Randolph, and every nation when entering the
market for loans, knows that the favour of the foremost American bankers
is something which must be reckoned with. I pride myself that at
forty-two, at the end of the ten years I have had the helm of Randolph &
Randolph, I have done nothing to mar the great name my father and uncle